Schwab’s Online Trading Extended
Charles Schwab & Co. said it will extend its fast-growing online brokerage business to its entire customer base of 4.8 million active investors. The San Francisco-based discount broker said that beginning Jan. 15, it will offer all retail customers access to online investing with simplified pricing and will launch an entirely updated Web site with information such as research. The strategy aims to keep Schwab out of online price wars while preserving its starting price of $29.95 a trade. Some online brokerages have dropped their fees as low as $8 a trade in recent weeks. Schwab wants to strike a middle ground between the cut-rate Internet services and the full-service, full-commission brokers who account for roughly 80% of overall U.S. brokerage business. With fewer than a quarter of Schwab’s investors now online, the brokerage hopes to engage customers who otherwise might shy away from online trading. Schwab spokesman Tom Taggart said the broker was folding its e.Schwab electronic trading business into the parent, while it was retaining the $29.95 flat rate for trades of up to 1,000 shares on its Web site. Schwab shares rose 56 cents to close at $42.13 on the New York Stock Exchange.